This series reports research activities or interim findings and aim to share ideas and elicit feedback. Future Agricultures publishes approximately six to ten Working Papers per year.
We also support a series of LDPI Working Papers through our involvement in the Land Deal Politics Initiative.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 76
Ian Scoones, Rebecca Smalley, Ruth Hall and Dzodzi Tsikata
Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. Resulting narratives of scarcity drive behaviour and justify actions to harness resources considered ‘under-utilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities. Yet scarcity is contingent, contextual and above all political. We present an analysis of three framings – absolute scarcity, relative scarcity and political scarcity – associated with the intellectual traditions of Malthus, Ricardo and Marx, respectively. A review of 134 global and Africa-specific policy and related sources produced over the past six years demonstrates how diverse framings of scarcity – what it is, its causes and what is to be done – are evident in competing narratives that animate debates about the future of food and farming in Africa and globally. We argue that current mainstream narratives emphasise absolute and relative scarcity, while ignoring political scarcity. We suggest a more political framing of scarcity requires paying attention to how resources are distributed between different needs and uses, and so different people and social classes. This requires, we argue, a policy emphasis for land and resource issues on rights and access, and distributional issues, centred on equity and justice.
Cross-border livestock trade (CBLT) is an important livelihood activity for many pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in the Horn of Africa. The trade has developed into an informal industry supporting many stakeholders along the value chain: livestock-keepers, fodder suppliers, ranch owners, itinerant traders, large livestock traders and transporters. This paper examines the CBLT spanning the border between Somali Region of Ethiopia and Somaliland. Specifically, it considers policies and controls shaping the dynamics of the trade in recent years. The study also highlights the competition that Somaliland and Djibouti have found themselves in to become the livestock export hub in the Horn of Africa, as well as clan dynamics.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 74
This paper examines the impact of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) on Tanzania's agricultural sector. It discusses how CAADP relates to national and regional policy initiatives (including the country's Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition) and their governance; the possible impacts of CAADP on spending on agriculture in the country; and the extent of the influence and inclusion of civil society organisations on agricultural policy processes.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 72
Khamaldin Mutabazi, Steve Wiggins & Ntengua Mdoe
African agriculture is predominantly carried out on small-scale family farms. The big question about such family farms is whether they can be successfully commercialised within their current structures, or whether they should give way to commercial medium and large-scale farm enterprises. In more detail, the following questions arise about the experience of commercialisation of small farms in Africa and their prospects. Under what conditions, and with what encouragement from policy, may small farms be commercialised? Does commercialisation benefit smallholding households? Does commercialisation increase social differences? Does commercialisation raise risks in the markets to unacceptable levels?
This study addresses primarily the first two questions about the nature of commercialisation, its benefits and impacts on food security. Four villages in Tanzania that produce commercial crops for sale, mainly onions, were studied.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 73
Emmanuel Sulle and Fred Nelson
Like much of sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has experienced a surge in land-based investment during the past decade. While expanding private investment in agriculture is a core ambition of the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, experiences of prior investments raise questions about possible negative impacts. A notable element of this pattern of international private investment in Tanzania has been the emergence of biofuels as a form of agriculture; biofuel investments occurred rapidly and on a large scale around 2005–2008, with about four million hectares around the country requested for allocation to commercial biofuel projects. Many of those investments were large-scale projects based on the cultivation of jatropha or sugarcane, headed by European companies. One of the most well-known biofuel investments was that of Bioshape, which acquired approximately 34,000 ha in Kilwa District for the cultivation of jatropha.
The report documents, insofar as is possible using available information, the process Bioshape and government authorities at national and district level undertook to acquire the land from the four villages in Kilwa where Bioshape established operations.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 71
Leulseged Yirgu, Alan Nicol and Shweta Srinivasan
This paper addresses how policy responses to climate change are shaping the agricultural sector in Ethiopia, and their significance for the country’s future development. The paper highlights the multiple policy and institutional responses, including those that fall under a new policy direction of ‘green’ economic development, with a focus on development of a low-carbon economy by 2025. Under this broad banner, emerging policy narratives centre on achieving ‘climate smart’ agriculture, establishing more intensified and commercial approaches and, in the livestock sector, seeking major transformations in pastoralism within the country’s lowland periphery. At the same time, a number of structural gaps are emerging, including the success with which climate policy is being integrated across different natural resource sectors, from water and land management to rural afforestation.
Important political-economic considerations are shown to be driving some of the emerging challenges, as Ethiopia struggles to find ways of engaging a rapidly-growing economically active population. The paper suggests that externally-driven policy processes are crowding out more coherent analyses of key national-level resource management and development issues, and that a rush for climate finance may crowd out important local knowledge and experience from below that can better inform policy responses. Without adequately addressing multiple challenges facing smallholder farmers in many parts of the overcrowded highlands, question marks continue to surround the capacity of the country to achieve real agricultural transformation under the ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 70
Immaculate Maina, Andrew Newsham and Michael Okoti
This paper analyses emerging policy discussions on climate change and agriculture in Kenya. Kenya has been ahead of many other countries in developing a national climate change strategy, and agriculture is one of the key critical sectors of interest. However, there are concerns about whether policy goals may be achieved amidst the actors’ many and diverging interests. This paper sets out to map how these debates are starting to take place in practice, and poses the following questions: what are the arguments, who is promoting them, and what are the implications for Kenya’s agricultural sector?
A better understanding of the key actors, their interests and through what narratives actor-interests are mobilised is important because they will all have implications for the kinds of support farmers at the local level do or do not receive, and the extent to which their own interests are fore grounded or marginalised within the policy process. Ultimately, the policy response to climate change in the agricultural sector is one important factor which mediates local-level vulnerability. The paper examines key policy narratives and documents on climate change and agriculture, how (groups of ) key actors cluster in relation to the narratives, and how they are manifesting themselves in practice.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 69
Despite ongoing changes in the structure of African economies, Africa remains heavily dependent on the agricultural sector for employment, foreign exchange and as a (potential) driver of poverty reduction. However, for several decades the dominant narrative regarding African agriculture has been one of underperformance. This paper broadly accepts the “under-performance” narrative, but qualifies it by highlighting the great diversity in performance both across and within countries and regions within Africa. It then considers how African agriculture is positioned to respond to a confluence of powerful forces that are already affecting it and will do so with increasing influence over the next decade(s). The three forces that this paper focuses on are: (1) increased demand for agricultural products in both domestic and international markets; (2) Population growth (which both contributes to this demand and alters the relative scarcities of land and labour available for production); (3) Democratisation (which is a partial exception, as the basic conclusion is that it is not yet exerting as much influence on agricultural policy as might be expected).
Future Agricultures Working Paper 68
Mohamed Elmi and Izzy Birch
This paper reflects on the work of the Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands between its formation in April 2008 and the elections of March 2013. The paper begins by summarising the historical, political and institutional contexts within which the Ministry was created, as well as the multiple narratives that have driven policy in Kenya’s drylands over time (section 1). It explains some of the policy choices the Ministry made in interpreting its mandate and shaping the policy agenda. The paper reflects on the response of different actors to the policy space opened up by the establishment of the Ministry, and looks at how it implemented its mandate and its day-to-day engagement with others. The authors discuss the institutional framework in more detail and the steps required to strengthen it further. The paper concludes with reflections and recommendations.
Future Agricultures Working Paper 67
Andrew Dorward and Ephraim Chirwa
This paper presents a partial equilibrium model of the impacts of the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Programme on smallholder livelihoods in two major and contrasting livelihood zones over the period 2005/6 to 2010/11. Despite inherent difficulties in modelling the multi-scale and complex relationships that are involved, model findings show direct impacts on subsidy recipients (increasing maize production and real incomes), differences between poorer and less poor households (with poorer households normally gaining more proportionally but not necessarily absolutely from the same subsidy package), and differences between central and southern region maize growing areas with different rates of poverty incidence and land pressure (with greater absolute and proportional gains in poorer southern region areas). The results also show the impacts of the programme on wages and maize prices.
However, a significant finding of model simulations is that beneficial indirect effects may be greater than direct impacts in maize growing areas with high rates of poverty incidence and high land pressure. These indirect effects arise through increases in the ratio of wages to maize prices, and benefit poorer households (who sell ganyu labour and buy maize) while potentially harming in the short term the incomes of less poor buyers of ganyu labour and sellers of maize (these households should however gain in the medium and long run from increased livelihood opportunities with wider economic growth). This finding has important implications for programme design, implementation and evaluation. Much more emphasis should be placed on ensuring that the programme and other policies are managed to maximise these indirect benefits, and on assessing these benefits in programme evaluation. There are particular implications for the design and management of area and household targeting and graduation.